10 Months of Jimm – a quick catch up.

Well once again I’m admitting to being a crap blogger. The best part of a year has gone by since my last post, however I think I can sum most of it up quite quickly and head back to the plan of weekly updates.

Personal stuff

So far through 2013, there hasn’t been much. I had a brilliant holiday to Boston and New York with my lovely wife.

I have also taken up running at Walsall Parkrun. This has led to me taking part in the Walsall 10k race and the BUPA Great Birmingham Run. I can now say with confidence that I am a half-marathon runner. I plan to take part in more similar distance runs next year and work towards entering a full marathon.

I finally got around to getting a tattoo. A triptych of circular icons representative of some of my closest and dearest friends. Not the design I referred to in my post of January 2012, although the design for that one is being finalised with the plan to get inked some time in November. I also added two ear lobe piercings (both in my left ear) to my complement to body jewellery.

Professional stuff

I appeared in several plays this year, a romantic comedy for CurlyTash Productions, Blank Paige and several mummers plays with Walsall’s only street theatre company, Cart Before The Horse, including a mini-tour over summer where we performed at the Alcester Folk Festival and the Ludlow Fringe.
I’ve not performed stand-up much this year, but the gigs I have appeared at have been fantastic fun.

Aside from the performative work, I’ve very recently changed jobs. This means that I no longer work as a full time Technician, I am now the Promoter for the Performance Hub at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus.
This is a big change for me, but I’m enjoying the challenge my new role brings.

That’s pretty much all the info you need at the mo. Please forgive the state of the blog so far this year but I will be updating the other pages soon.

And finally, after reading about it on Andrew Clayton’s blog, I’m considering setting myself a challenge of writing a novel throughout November. It will probably turn out to be a bit crap but it will be a great exercise in creative writing.

Have fun with whatever you’re up to.

P.S. I have also discovered (through Too//Damn//Ninja) the wonderfully weird and comedic podcast Welcome To Night Vale. It may not be to everybody’s taste but I find it quite amusing.


Heading towards 2013

Hey folks, it’s only half a month until the end of the year.

So what have we learned?

Well I learned that if I get into a rant about racist dicks invading my home town I suddenly attract a huge amount of traffic to my blog. Other than that I have learned that I really enjoy street theatre, I’ve learned that since the Lucas/Disney deal went through I may still get a chance to play a Jedi (or Sith) at some point in my acting career – if I get my finger out of my arse and get into some T.V. and film work that is.

I have learned that I am too easily distracted and need to buckle down to things I plan to do – especially if these are self imposed targets, without anyone else pushing me forward.

So what will I be doing next year? Here’s the plan:

  • I’ll be working on some of my writing so that I can finish off a few work-in-progress scripts, plan out a large story I’m hoping to write and e-publish in serialised format, work on an entertaining and slick stand-up routine to perform as myself (as well as continuing the Pirate act) in an attempt to get a few more gigs.
  • I will actually get around to learning to play my violin
  • I am going to focus on learning my lines as soon as possible for any plays I’m in next year – I’ve already got “Bayard’s Colts Winter Play: The Lovers and The Pirates” in February and “Blank Paige” in April. Further details nearer the time, and I’ll be updating my Projects page as soon as I know of stuff I’m involved in.
  • I will tidy my study… No, this time I really will. I’m going to use it as an office to work in – arranging everything so that I can work comfortably yet productively. I will then no longer be heading down the pub for a bit of space to work in.
  • I will be even more organised with my calendar than I already am, making sure I know exactly how much time I have to do what and making sure I have plenty of time to relax and spend with my wife, not just the odd moment around my hectic life.
  • Also next year I’ll be turning 30. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve decided to become all mature* and organised. [*okay, not that mature, I'll still laugh at a good dick or fart joke!]

I may post up another blog update before the year is out, but in case I don’t please have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

 


“#To sing a song of Bayard…”

Bayard’s Colts: The Alchemist and The Devil was fantastic. The whole day was enjoyable, each crowd at the three performances were well up for a bit of silliness, screaming, joining in and mucking about. The Bloxwich Telegraph wrote a lovely piece about the play and they took a huge stack of photos (link to their Flikr album at the bottom of their article). Missed out on seeing it? Don’t fret – there are still tickets available for Walsall’s first Indoor-Street-Theatre event, including a presentation about the whole project, at The Performance Hub tomorrow [Saturday 24th Nov] – click through for tickets (£5 each).

In other news, rehearsals have begun for Blank Paige and it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun working for CurlyTash Productions and being directed by Reece Page.

A little about the rugby – the England win over Fiji was brilliant. The Australia game I kind of caught some reports on it but I was pretending to be a french alchemist at the time. We lost, but I can’t really say whether we deserved to win or not as I didn’t see the match. I also won’t be watching tomorrow’s match against South Africa as I’ll once again be donning the cape and accent of Maugis.

In completely uninteresting news, my ‘Gravatar widget’ on the side over there —-> has disappeared, as has my “About” page. In their stead I have put a widget linking to my About.Me page. There seems to be a communication problem with their server at the mo so the widget may not be there when you read this post, but I’ll keep trying until it’s working. For those who can’t wait, check out about.me/jimmrennie.

That’s about it for now. Have fun with whatever you’re up to. If you are at a loose end tomorrow around 2:30pm or 7:30pm, don’t forget the indoor performances of The Alchemist and The Devil at The Performance Hub. Catch you next time for another thrilling installment of Stuff Jimm Rennie Does.


A lot to catch up on

Hellooo Folks! It’s been a while but I thought I’d better blog about my stuff. Especially after my last post which wasn’t about stuff I do at all.

First up I’d like to give a couple of reviews for things I mentioned before I took a bit of a blogging break (unintentional – I’m just still crap at keeping a regular tab on things) as well as a few things I’ve been up to in between my last proper post and now.

As I alluded to in my anti-EDL rant, the Bandstand Marathon event back at the start of September was fantastic. The sports and activity stalls and the ‘have a go’ sessions seemed to be pretty busy all day, the arts and crafts fair was well attended and the music at the bandstand itself was brilliant. Well done to all those who took part. One valuable lesson I learned was that the boots I wear as Pirate Jimm Yaharr! are bloody uncomfortable if you try wearing them for 6 hours straight.

A slight side note from the Bandstand event is that the folks sitting in the audience were quite vocal when asked by Glen-from-the-council and the Mayor about whether the people of Walsall wanted more community events like this. The response was a resounding “YES!” The good folks of Walsall want more music events across the board – classical, rock, pop, indie, operatic. They want dramatic stuff, a few people even seemed up for a bit of Shakespeare. Talking of dramatic stuff, more Bayard’s Colts plays happening soon, details below. But this all goes to show that the people of Walsall want some engagement with the Arts – and with the huge copper plated Performance Hub on the Broadway, part of the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus it looks like Walsall could be developing into an increasingly artistic town… As if that wasn’t already noticeable from the New Art Gallery (currently showing a Hirst exhibition), the Museums, the Bayard’s Colts project, the work being planned/done(?) on the Town Hall to make it a suitable venue for live bands, Bookmark Bloxwich, The Forest Arts Centre, Caldmore Village Festival, the local artists’ exhibitions at the White Lion, and the numerous live music gigs in pubs and clubs throughout the borough – the list goes on, check out what’s happening for yourself.

Since my last update I’ve had two stand-up gigs, both as my pirate persona. One was arranged last minute (I’m guessing someone pulled out – I didn’t ask) for LouDeemy Soup at the 6/8 Kafé in Birmingham as part of the Birmingham Comedy Festival. The underground room used for the night was a great little venue, a little reminiscent of the iconic ‘Stand-Up Club’ look from the 70’s and 80’s. The acts were brilliant and I’d love to work with LouDeemy again – having been on the bill with Louise from LouDeemy on my first outing as Pirate Jimm Yaharr!, having had her play Mary in our last outing with Three For A Girl and having seen her acting in The Inferno Kid by Alex Brockie and meeting Nadeem (the other half of LouDeemy) as he was documenting the first production of TIK.

My other gig was at the Hollywood Social Club in Erdington, a members only club. Andy Nightingale had put together a top notch bill of acts and the night went down a storm. The crowd were lovely and I got to see a nice couple I had performed for over a year ago at a comedy night that had doubled up as the chap’s birthday at the Old Moseley Arms.

Another project I have been involved in recently is the aforementioned play by Alex Brockie entitled The Inferno Kid. Alex was studying on the same MA course as me, deciding in his dissertation performance to write, produce and star in a show about a disabled ex-wrestler. The show was good when he performed it at the University but I didn’t get a very good view as I was sat on the stage desk acting as DSM (Deputy Stage Manager for any non-theatrical types). It has been reworked and Alex is now putting together a tour of the full play for which I have been asked to design the lighting. He has already performed a preview showing at the Arena Theatre which was absolutely great. The lighting design worked well (if I do say so myself) and as I was not operating any of the tech it meant I could sit in the audience and watch it. When the tour kicks off I’ll post details as I can heartily recommend you go see it, whether or not you’re a regular theatre-goer or wrestling fan.

Aside from my performative work for a short while, in 2011 I attended a conference at the University of Warwick called Virtual Futures which it turned out was a bit of an update from a series of conferences in the 1990’s under the same name. You can click on the link above to find out the full scope of the conference and it’s associated events but the basic part I was interested in (and still am) is the future inclusion of technology in performing arts.
Wondering where this is going? Well I recently found out about an event billed as the first Virtual Futures Salon. It was held at the Trove Gallery in Birmingham on 24th October. I went along and tweeted as much as I dared with my slowly dying phone battery (at almost 2 years old it was starting to need a charge every 8-10 hours – got a new phone now) and enjoyed hearing from the speakers. I’m looking forward to more of these Salon events and the next VF conference in 2013. Have a mooch around the VF website, and if it seems your kind of thing then maybe I’ll see you at a future event.

Another thing I’ve been doing recently is patronising Attitude every Friday night at the Stein Bar, Walsall, a night run by Dying Day Promotions. The regular Friday night thing is pretty good but I’ve especially enjoyed the recent theme nights, including a ‘Disney Party’ for which Pirate Jimm Yaharr! was asked to attend representing a crew member of a certain Capt. Sparrow, the Halloween night on 26th October and a Dia de Los Muetos night on 2nd November. No doubt they will be hosting a Christmas party in December as well. If you can get down to support Attitude I would recommend you do, it’s a great night out in Walsall.
__

Now to the promotional bit – all the lovely stuff I have coming up soon.

As I mentioned earlier, the second play in the Bayard’s Colts cycle, The Alchemist and The Devil, is happening in Walsall town centre, just at the top of the market, on Saturday 17th November at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. If you do come and watch then feel free to don your halloween costume to fit in with the spooky nature of the story but please do wrap up warm. After the show, feel free to follow the cast into the Black Country Arms for a pint or two while you warm up – hot food served throughout the day.

There is also an indoors version of the play following a presentation about the project as a whole one week later on Saturday 24th November at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the Performance Hub. Details for this and a link for where to book tickets can be found on the Bayard’s Colts website.

The date of the third Bayard’s Colts play has also been set so I’ll keep you updated as further information is announced.

I’ve not got much comedy coming up – the only gig I have booked before next year is The Teknicolour Smoof Christmas Party at the Crown Inn in Oakengates. Details are on my Projects page.

Next April I will be in the Arena Theatre in the role of Derek in an original play called Blank Paige from CurlyTash Productions. I’ll plug it nearer the time but I thought I’d mention it now as we recently had our first meeting with the director and producers.
__

Finally – for all of you who can’t wait until the 6 Nations in February for my lame-ass reporting of England Rugby, fear not. This weekend the QBE Internationals start and I will be letting you know how I feel about the matches as and when I can.

You know what? If I blogged a bit more regularly I wouldn’t need to write an essay every time just to make sure I cover everything. That’s about it for now, all that’s left to say is have fun with whatever you’re up to and lets all hope England can beat Fiji tomorrow.


Our Streets

I don’t usually get political on my blog – I don’t usually get political at all – but I feel I should point out a few things that prove that the English Defense League (scum) are just out to cause harm and violence, and why in my opinion anyone openly associating with the group should be arrested for inciting racial hatred in an instant – whether they’ve been on a demonstration or not.

The EDL website says that they are “Peacefully Protesting Against Militant Islam”. Today they came to my home town of Walsall. Why? Read here. The opening statement, “Walsall is not noted for being a centre of Islamic radicalism or militancy” shows that if they are protesting against Militant Islam, they have no need to come to Walsall.

ITV News have reported “A policeman has been injured in Walsall town centre as the EDL clash with police. Eyewitness reports of fireworks, bricks and bottles being thrown through the air.” That hardly sounds Peaceful to me.*

So far the tagline from the EDL website isn’t holding much water – the only bits they’re fulfilling are Protesting and Islam. Sounds like incitement to racial hatred to me. Arrest the lot of ‘em.

The other part I’d like to pull them up on is the common phrase of theirs “Taking back our streets.” Fuck right off – if you have travelled to Walsall to take part in this protest then they are not your streets. As a Walsall resident they are MY streets and the streets of every other resident, including these guys:

Unite Against Fascism & We Are Walsall by Walsall Art Gallery

Unite Against Fascism & We Are Walsall by Walsall Art Gallery

Showing that the English Defence League’s point of view is NOT the opinion of the masses. Also, calling Walsall “a run-down industrial town in the heartland of England” just shows you have no clue what goes on in Walsall, how prominent the creative arts are in Walsall and how fantastic the locals are around here. Walsall is a town to proud of – just look at how great the Bandstand Marathon event was three weeks ago.

Finally a HUGE thank you from the peaceful people of Walsall to West Midlands Police for keeping OUR STREETS safe.

That’s my rant for now, have fun with whatever you’re doing… unless you’re a member of the EDL kicking off in my home town, in which case I hope you enjoy your stay in jail – you deserve it.
___
*Addition: Video of missiles thrown at the police here.


Chapter 10,804: In which I look like a Punk Rock Liberace.

Well I’ve finally recovered from Robin Hood and The Giant, with a bit of time to relax before rehearsals begin in October for The Alchemist and The Devil. My little brother turned up on show day and stayed to watch all three performances, afterwards he said he’d like to get involved in the next one. Earlier this week I found out that my older brother has been press-ganged into the project through some of the others in the cast and band. So if all goes well, come along and watch the three of us performing together – for the first time publicly. If you would like to get involved, check out the Bayard’s Colts’ project page – details of how to get involved should be going up soon. Some more photos from the show have appeared online here if you would like to have a look. Thanks to Smudger Stu for posting these up.

Half Pirate Jimm Yaharr! / Half Jimm Rennie

This Thursday I finally appeared at one of the most highly respected comedy nights in the West Midlands. While I have been performing stand-up over the last couple of years, almost everybody I have met have played the Hollybush in Cradley Heath. I finally got around to contacting the landlord/promoter when I saw he had free spots open over the next few months.

What can I say? The experience did not disappoint and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. Unfortunately there was not much time after I finished my set before I had to leave to catch the last train to Birmingham and then the last bus home from there. To ensure I made the last train I took off the majority of my Pirate Jimm Yaharr! accessories, changed back out of my boots into normal shoes and threw my jacket on over my shirt. As a result I ended up looking like either a New Romantic throw-back or a trend-setter for the Nu-New Romantic genre which I’ve never heard of before, so you can probably guess it was more likely the first option. Oh well, I didn’t get as many funny looks as I thought I might so I may start this Nu-New Romantic look and see if it catches on.

In upcoming attractions news, tomorrow (Sunday 9th Sept.) I’ll be wandering around Walsall Arboretum trying to generally entertain, once again as Pirate Jimm Yaharr! as part of the Bandstand Marathon. There will be loads of great attractions on throughout the day for all the family, including an arts & crafts fair, street entertainers and the live musical acts of the marathon itself. It is also a chance for folk to have a look around the newly restored Arboretum and the Gallery Garden (where there will be loads of crafty-type events). Click on the link and click through to find out exactly what’s going on where and when. It should be a fantastic day – and weatherwise it looks like it’ll be a lovely day, bring a sun hat folks!

If you are more Birmingham based then I would suggest you check out Artsfest this weekend. Loads to do, loads going on, loads to get excited about. I would like to especially plug like crazy the band my older brother is in The Grey Goose Blues Band, who are playing the BBC WM Introducing stage from 7:30pm on Sunday.

Have fun with whatever you’re up to this weekend and I hope you enjoy the sunshine that has suddenly appeared now that Summer is drawing to a close.


“#Come gather ’round you Walsall folk, come make a mighty crowd…”

And they did.

A few hundred people came to watch the three performances of Robin Hood and the Giant on Saturday and as far as I’m aware a good time was had by all – even by the audiences that had to briefly shelter under cover when the heavens opened upon our playing space. I have already seen plenty of photos kicking around facebook from the show, hopefully these will also find themselves onto a publicly accessible site at some point (although these already are accessible to all). I noticed a fair few videos being filmed as well so hopefully they too will surface. There was a professional group of archivists taking pics and filming the shows and I will post up links to these when they have been edited and uploaded.

If you have any footage, stills or video, of our performance, please feel free to upload it somewhere and tell me or the guys at the Bayard’s Colts Project.

Although the show was tiring, it was very rewarding. During our brief processional following the first performance the Mayor of Walsall reached out to shake my hand, which I can only assume means he enjoyed my role – probably the bits where I was dead and lying in the street. My favourite critique of all time came via one of my fellow cast members, Tony Barrett – the Tat Man for those who saw the show, as he tried to get some audience feedback from one child. Apparently the conversation went something like this:

Tat Man – “Did you enjoy that?”
Child      – “Yeah.”
Tat Man – “What was your favourite part?”
Child      – “When ‘e died.”
Tat Man – “You mean the Giant?”
Child      – “Nah. Robin Hood.”
Tat Man – “Why did you like it when Robin died?”
Child      – “‘Coz he was a show-off!”

With comments like that I think it’s safe to say I did the job that was put in front of me… and I had a bloody fun time while I was doing it!

___

The next play in the Bayard’s Colts cycle of mummery, The Alchemist and The Devil will be performed on Saturday 10th November. Rehearsals will begin on Wednesday 3rd October. If you would like to be involved then please get in contact with the director, Glen Buglass. His details can be found here (second set of details on that page).

I’ll leave you to enjoy your Bank Holiday Monday now. Have fun whatever you’re doing and I’ll bring you another thrilling installment of stuff I do next week.